Monthly Archives: April 2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

28 April 2018

Reflecting on Acts 9: 26-31

My friend Joni used to have this plaque hanging over her fireplace: Lord, thank you for everything I know today. And forgive me for everything I thought I knew yesterday. I think of that wonderful message when I consider Saul, he of the inherited Roman citizenship and perfect Jewish pedigree, the Pharisee who was the son of a Pharisee, breathing fire as he self-righteously marched to Damascus in order to arrest any Christians living there.

Here’s a guy who knew who was right and who was wrong, who was in and who was out. No one was a fiercer persecutor of the infant Church than he. And yet, when a light flashed around him and struck him to the ground, he had the grace to ask, “Who are you?” He heard, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

And that was that. All of history tilted at the moment when Saul, the tri-lingual Jewish defender of Orthodoxy, the one person who was as comfortable in the big cities as in the backwater, unincorporated, lawless badlands of the far-flung Roman empire, asked Jesus for his identity. He spent the rest of his life, in synagogues and law courts, in Gentile marketplaces and desolate prisons, telling everyone he met about that identity. There are no records of the event, but we can feel sure that he was still preaching Jesus to his executioners as they leveled the sword against his head.

He risked it all so that we might know Jesus. Thank you, St. Paul. You’ve shown us how to admit that we sometimes get it wrong.

What example can you give of having the humility to admit that you were wrong?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

21 April 2018

Reflecting on John 10:11-18

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  Don’t those magnificent words of Jesus sit well with your soul? I remember the anguished nights of my youth, praying for all those around the world who would die that night and go to hell because no one had ever told them about Jesus. Even as a ten-year-old I knew, in that deep, warm place where grace and truth hover in the heart, that God was greater than all that.

The Vatican II pastoral document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World) gives words to our intuitions about who the sheep in Christ’s pasture might be:

We ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to everyone the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery. (22)

In the sixth book of C.S. Lewis’ classic Christian allegory, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader—such a beautiful book, my favorite of the seven―the odious, insufferable cousin Eustace has a terrifying encounter with a dragon, and is saved by a Lion. He immediately feels terrible about his past behavior, and asks his cousins Lucy and Edmond to forgive him, and to tell him more about this Lion (the Christ). Do you know him? asks Eustace.

Yes, says Edmond. I know him. But he knows me better. Ah. Beautiful. God is near to us, and knows us better than we can know God. There is, unfortunately, one caveat: God looks upon the lowly and supplies them. But the proud God knows from afar (Ps. 138:6).

What are you doing to make sure God doesn’t know you from afar?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

14 April 2018

Reflecting on Luke 24: 35-48

How did I never notice before that the first two gospel accounts that we hear in the Sunday liturgies in Easter Season—Divine Mercy Sunday and today’s Third Sunday of Easter―both give an account of Jesus asking the disciples to touch his wounds? Last week’s section from John recounted that Thomas needed to touch the wounds of Jesus in order to truly believe that he was risen from the dead.  This week’s section from Luke tells of the appearance of Jesus to the Eleven, and how they, astonished, were invited by Jesus to touch his wounds.

“Touch me and see,” he said, “and then he showed them his hands and feet.”  Reading them together now, I feel such tenderness toward Jesus, the Crucified One.  Even now, risen and glorified, his humanness is apparent.  Is it possible that Jesus the Risen One is still so in love with our human nature that he wants his dear friends to share in the awfulness of his experience? Is it possible that he, like every human who has ever lived, needs his loved ones to touch his pain and truly understand what he suffered?

Like everything about Jesus, he stands our understanding of suffering on its head. Maybe it’s NOT a holy thing to keep our wounds covered so we don’t disturb people. Maybe the holier thing is to say, when we are beside ourselves, “Help me. I’m hurting. I just broke my arm.” And, of course, the much less socially correct cry, “Help me. I’m hurting. Someone just broke my heart.”

And the other thing Jesus taught that day? Our friends trust us even more when we are willing to show them our wounds.

What wounds that you’ve kept hidden need to be brought into the light of day?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle B

10 April 2018

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

If you struggle with the actual truth of the resurrection, consider two things. First, after the resurrection every one of the Twelve (excluding Judas) went out into the farthest corners of the known world, filled with the utter conviction that he had seen the Risen Lord. Every one knew exactly what would befall him, and every one chose to go anyway. Such was the faith of those who had watched Jesus die, and seen the empty tomb, and experienced the Divine Mercy. Resurrection faith changes us.

The second may be just as compelling. In the earliest Christian communities, those who owned property or houses would sell them, and the proceeds were distributed to each according to need. Think of that. These early Christians SO BELIEVED in the resurrection that they sold their belongings and shared all things in common, carefully taking care of those in need. Resurrection faith seeks nothing but to love.

If you observe women and men in religious communities you see this first-century faith. Imagine doing your job all week, and then putting your paycheck in a communal kitty. Each one takes from the kitty only what she needs, but of course some members need more than others do, and this is how you survive, every day for the rest of your life. Resurrection faith is stronger than death.

Maybe that’s why Thomas needed to place his hands in the wounds of Christ. He could already sense, in the joy and strength of those who had seen Him, that his life would be forever transformed if he believed. His very act of touching His wounds was his first-class ticket into the community of the martyred. Resurrection faith doesn’t care.

What experience of Divine Mercy have you had this year?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015